What is the definition of Allergic Conjunctivitis?

The conjunctiva is a clear layer of tissue lining the eyelids and covering the white of the eye. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when the conjunctiva becomes swollen or inflamed due to a reaction to pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold, or other allergy-causing substances.

What are the alternative names for Allergic Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis - allergic seasonal/perennial; Atopic keratoconjunctivitis; Pink eye - allergic

What are the causes for Allergic Conjunctivitis?

When your eyes are exposed to allergy-causing substances, a substance called histamine is released by your body. The blood vessels in the conjunctiva become swollen. The eyes can become red, itchy, and teary very quickly.

The pollens that cause symptoms vary from person to person and from area to area. Tiny, hard-to-see pollens that may cause allergic symptoms include grasses, ragweed and trees. These same pollens may also cause hay fever.

Your symptoms may be worse when there is more pollen in the air. Higher levels of pollen are more likely on hot, dry, windy days. On cool, damp, rainy days most pollen is washed to the ground.

Mold, animal dander, or dust mites may cause this problem also.

Allergies tend to run in families. It is hard to know exactly how many people have allergies. Many conditions are often lumped under the term "allergy" even when they might not truly be an allergy.

What are the symptoms for Allergic Conjunctivitis?

Symptoms may be seasonal and can include:

  • Intense itching or burning eyes
  • Puffy eyelids, most often in the morning
  • Red eyes
  • Stringy eye discharge
  • Tearing (watery eyes)
  • Widened blood vessels in the clear tissue covering the white of the eye

What are the current treatments for Allergic Conjunctivitis?

The best treatment is to avoid what causes your allergy symptoms as much as possible. Common triggers to avoid include dust, mold and pollen.

Some things you can do to ease symptoms are:

  • Use lubricating eye drops.
  • Apply cool compresses to the eyes.
  • Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Take over-the-counter oral antihistamines or antihistamine or decongestant eye drops. These medicines can offer more relief, but they can sometimes make your eyes dry. (Do not use the eye drops if you have contact lenses in place. Also, do not use the eye drops for more than 5 days, as rebound congestion can occur).

If home-care does not help, you may need to see a provider for treatments such as eye drops that contain antihistamines or eye drops that reduce swelling.

Mild eye steroid drops can be prescribed for more severe reactions. You may also use eye drops that prevent a type of white blood cell called mast cells from causing swelling. These drops are given along with antihistamines. These medicines work best if you take them before you come in contact with the allergen.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Allergic Conjunctivitis?

Symptoms often go away with treatment. However, they can persist if you continue to be exposed to the allergen.

Long-term swelling of the outer lining of the eyes may occur in those with chronic allergies or asthma. It is called vernal conjunctivitis. It is most common in young males, and most often occurs during the spring and summer.

What are the possible complications for Allergic Conjunctivitis?

There are no serious complications.

When should I contact a medical professional for Allergic Conjunctivitis?

Call your provider if:

  • You have symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis that do not respond to self-care steps and over-the-counter treatment.
  • Your vision is affected.
  • You develop eye pain that is severe or becoming worse.
  • Your eyelids or the skin around your eyes becomes swollen or red.
  • You have a headache in addition to your other symptoms.
Eye
Allergy
Conjunctivitis

REFERENCES

Cioffi GA, Liebmann JM. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 395.

Rubenstein JB, Spektor T. Allergic conjunctivitis. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 4.7.

  • Condition: Vernal Keratoconjunctivitis
  • Journal: Indian journal of pharmacology
  • Treatment Used: Olopatadine 0.1% Ophthalmic Drops Versus Bepotastine Besilate 1.5% Ophthalmic Drops
  • Number of Patients: 50
  • Published —
In this study, researchers compared the effectiveness of olopatadine 0.1% ophthalmic drops versus bepotastine besilate 1.5% ophthalmic drops for the treatment of vernal keratoconjunctivitis.
  • Condition: Allergic Conjunctivitis
  • Journal: Indian journal of ophthalmology
  • Treatment Used: Alcaftadine 0.25% vs Olopatidine Hydrochloride 0.2% vs Bepotastine Besilate 1.5% Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Number of Patients: 180
  • Published —
This study compared the effectiveness and safety of alcaftadine 0.25% versus olopatadine hydrochloride 0.2% versus bepotastine besilate 1.5% ophthalmic solutions in allergic conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane covering the white part of the eye, due to allergy).